Electro-Harmonix Bass MicroSynth Effects Pedal
Bass Effects Pedals
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Add the great sounds of the vintage synthesizers to your bass.
The Bass Micro Synthesizer XO adds the great sounds of the early Moog synthesizers to your bass arsenal. The pedal features 10 slider controls for ultimate control with 4 independent mixable voices (bass, octave, sub-octave, and square wave or distortion), the Bass Micro Synthesizer Pedal lets you create those fat, vintage analog synth sounds.
- Sub Octave
- Square Wave
- Attack Delay
- Start Frequency
- Stop Frequency
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Comments about Electro-Harmonix Bass MicroSynth Effects Pedal:
Over the years, Ive learned that almost every piece of gear has so much more potential than most musicians take the time to learn, especially in the realm of synths and multieffects. The EHX Bass Microsynth is a case in point, sort of a cross between the two. Its very easy to underestimate it, as I did for a while myself. Heres the basics of what it can do, and some of the things Ive learned that may help you get the most from it.
The first thing is the far left slider, the Trigger control. (On many dealers websites, this called rig in their product description, which Im guessing is a misprint of trig for Trigger.) This is your input volume control that triggers all of the other adjustable parameters. Set it high enough so that it will activate those parameters, but not much higher than that point. Setting it too high will create false triggering, giving you multiple attacks or other sounds you dont want. Midpoint is a good place to start, but depending on how hot the output is on your bass, you may have to vary that considerably. Setting this just right is crucial to you getting the Bass Microsynth to perform optimally.
The first slider in the Voice Mix section is Suboctave. Used alone, it will give you a rich, fat synthesized suboctave, like any good octave divider. This is the only Voice that doesnt tolerate polyphony, but if you blend it low with other Voices more prominent, it doesnt glitch glaringly if you happen to play a double stop, it usually just plays one of the two notes.
The second slider controls the level of your dry bass sound, but it does color your tone noticeably. You can think of this as a lightly synthesized version of your bass, in the octave that youre playing. At this point I should say that the newer Microsynth does have true bypass with no tone or volume suck, so when you want a completely uneffected sound, youve got it at the tap of a footswitch.
The third slider is a synthesized octave above your input, but its a lightly fuzzed octave, not clean like it would be on a HOG, POG, or other pitch shifter. Personally I wouldnt use it as a solo Voice, but as part of the mix, its very cool. It, along with the Square Wave and Resonance sliders, adds unique types of bite or edge to your tone. I like to use those three mostly as seasonings, because theyre all strong sounds, but if you want something that really cuts or are going for something over the top, you might want to max them out.
The Square Wave slider is basically distortion. I know some guys who like to use it as an alternative distortion pedal. I find it kind of harsh for that, and like to use it to add some fat to sounds I create without it first.
The Attack Delay slider adjusts the rate of the attack, so that you can get a very brief volume swell mimicking a violin-type of attack, or a longer swell in. This is one of the features that some people overlook, and heres just one example of how it can add to the synthiness of this pedal. If you run it through an external long delay, you can get some great synth volume swells youd typically only expect to hear from a keyboard or software synth. The slowed attack on the MS eliminates any discernible pluck, so you wont get unwanted repeats in the delay, and you wont need a volume pedal for that.
The first slider in the filter section controls Resonance, how much brightness and presence the filter envelope has. It works in concert with the next two sliders, the Start and Stop frequencies, which also work together. A higher Resonance will emphasize the higher portion of the frequency, whether thats your start or stop frequency.
A low Start frequency and a higher Stop frequency will give you your typical Wah sweep. Reversing that will give you an Ow sweep, sort of like a Mu-Tron in its Down position. The Rate slider sets the speed of the sweep, so a slow Rate, slider in the full up position, gives you a gorgeous, long sweep, up or down depending on Start and Stop settings. A faster rate will let you emulate a short, synthy triggered wah or ow, and along with how you set the Resonance, you can produce extremely convincing synth funk bass lines for driving dance grooves.
The sounds themselves are amazing. The analog filters are full and fat, the tracking is perfect--all the way up my six string, and the Suboctave will track down to the low E with everything else tracking to the B--and the range of possibilities is much broader than youd think. You can narrow the Start and Stop sliders to hone in on a narrow frequency spectrum, lower for dub-like parts, higher for solo synth lines, in between for so many other synth bass possibilities. The main downside is there is no way to store presets. So, take the time to figure out how the sliders work individually, and more importantly, how they interact, and youll be able to closely call up the sounds you want on the fly. Sometimes, I play barefoot and use my toes to adjust the sliders live. (This is easiest sitting down!) Also experiment running this through various other effects. Compressors will tighten a sound nicely. With carefully selected chorusing, flanging, delay and reverb, you can get this to sound very much like a Moog, Arp, or Oberheim. Really! This is the most economical of my bass synth processors--Ive got a lot of GK-driven units too--but this will have a home with me for a long time to come.
Comments about Electro-Harmonix Bass MicroSynth Effects Pedal:
The EH Bass MicroSynth pedal is not for everyone. It's a unique pedal that adds what some might consider very 'specialized' sounds to your arsenal. I bought it for the distortion sound first and all it's other bells & whistles second. The sound of additive synth to live instruments (in this case a square wave creating distortion) is unlike anything else. In my initial exploration I didn't think I'd have much use for the sub-octave slider, but that has become one of my favorite options, allowing me to play up on the neck and still have a huge sound. Speaking of HUGE sound, crank up the resonance, square wave and, well, everything except the attack and you have your very own wall o' sound. I've yet to get to use it with my band, only in recording, but I already know it will be a hit with the guys, all lovers of gizmos. Of course, it does that totally sweet dripping with sweat synth funk bass sound like no other, but that's a gimme. The pedal is better weighed by its subtle effects, which are many. Quality is top-notch and, though it doesn't tell you specifically on this site, it DOES come with it's own power supply (finally, a pedal I don't have to shell out an extra $20 for an adapter!).